On Thursday May 20, 2010 The official site of the Prime Minister’s Office set out the Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition Government’s programme for government.
The site in turn refers to the Cabinet Office website where the full statement can be found.
There are 31 sections over 36 pages, covering topics from banking to schools, from defence to taxation.
Section 11 covers environment, food, and rural affairs, perhaps because they did not each merit a section of their own or perhaps because they are so inter-related that they were best dealt with under one heading.
In fact, the topics are in conflict. What is good for the rural economy is not always good for wildlife.
As with the other sections of the document, section 11 begins with a general statement of belief followed by the individual statements of the Governments intentions.
The general statement reads:
The Government believes that we need to protect the environment for future generations, make our economy more environmentally sustainable, and improve our quality of life and well-being. We also believe that much more needs to be done to support the farming industry, protect biodiversity and encourage sustainable food production.
I want to highlight just two of the 18 statements of intent.
Number 3 reads:
We will introduce measures to protect wildlife and promote green spaces and wildlife corridors in order to halt the loss of habitats and restore biodiversity.
Number 18 reads:
We will bring forward a motion on a free vote enabling the House of Commons to express its view on the repeal of the Hunting Act.
The Hunting Act
The Hunting Act 2004 came into force on February 18, 2005.
According the League Against Cruel Sports – a charity that has been operating since 1924, there have been 140 convictions for offences under the Act since it was introduced, with 33 convictions in 2008.
There was strong opposition to the Act from a vocal minority who supported local hunts. There was a huge voice from right across Britain in favour of a ban on fox hunting by dogs who would chase down and rip a fox apart for sport.
So why on earth has the Government stated that it is committed to letting MPs vote according to their conscience on whether to repeal an Act of Parliament that was voted on and passed just five years ago?
Critics of the Conservatives would say it is because the heart and soul of the Conservative party are the landed gentry who still believe in a divine right to rule and the right to carry on in their own backyard as they wish.
Critics would say it is because the landed gentry are living the dream of hunting with the kings of the early middle ages in the hunting preserves.
Others looking at it from the other side might say it is because the Government wants to silence the pro-hunting lobby once and for all, and a free vote will do that because ‘everyone’ knows the majority of MPs will oppose the repeal of the legislation.
Well we don’t have to analyse it. We just have to recognise that whatever the motivation behind introducing a free vote – people need to make their voices heard.
Speak loudly and insistently and people who can change things will listen.
So tell your MP. If you want a simple pro-forma letter you can send to your local MP, here it is.
You can find your MP’s contact details here at the They Work For You website.
The coalition government has published its intention to bring forward a motion on a free vote enabling the House of Commons to express its view on the repeal of the Hunting Act 2004.
I wish to register with you my opposition to the repeal of this legislation.